Zach Wilson knows Jets’ starting QB job ‘has to be earned’

Zach Wilson Jets
Jets rookie quarterback Zach Wilson
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The next man up in the New York Jets’ ceaseless search for a franchise quarterback certainly is putting his nose to the grindstone already. 

Less than two weeks after he was selected second overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, Zach Wilson is immersing himself in the professional culture while understanding that the starting job under center for Gang Green simply won’t be gifted to him — as much as it is a priority for him to get the nod at the top of the depth chart.

“That’s important, but it’s not my focus right now,” Wilson said from minicamp over the weekend. “My focus is to learn the offense, keep getting better every single day, do what I can with the guys around me and I think the rest takes care of itself.

“In this position, the coaches want to play the best player. That position has to be earned. I have to do what I’m supposed to do. That’ll take care of itself.”

To do so, Wilson has to learn a brand-new system and the terminology that comes with it while acclimating to the speed of the pro game; where he compared it to learning a different language. A lofty challenge, certainly, but one the 21-year-old seems ready for.

“I really think it comes down to the scheme part of it. How much more detailed and complicated it is,” Wilson said. “That’s what makes it so special. There are so many small things that change momentum\ and change a game. That’s what separates everyone in this league, the best and the worst quarterback, it’s such a small difference and the littlest details are what makes that difference.”

On top of all this comes the expectations and hope that are saddled with every new quarterback that steps under center for the Jets that possibly, this can be the arm to end the 50-plus-year wait of finding that next franchise quarterback. 

Understandably, that would heap some more pressure on a young quarterback’s shoulders. But Wilson is taking a more patient, concise approach to this with the understanding that the organization’s long and frustrating QB situation can’t be rectified overnight.

“Those can be separated a little bit. I can go in the film room and grind and learn the offense as quickly as I can, but I don’t have any pressure to do more than I’m supposed to as far as understanding the offense and what I’m supposed to do,” he said. “Simplifying my reads, get the ball out of my hands, and let the playmakers around me make the plays. I really don’t need to put more thought into it than that.”